A few days ago, I tried on something new (for me) — 3-D movie glasses. We decided to catch the latest adventures and antics of Jack Sparrow, Barbosa and the other roustabouts in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. For a little over two hours, we were propelled through the streets of London and untamed shores of the Atlantic as decadent royal food spreads, mermaids, ships, explosions and stupendous waterfalls filled our world, suspending anything that might be happening outside those 3-D glasses. I walked out saying, “That’s the best experience I’ve had in a theater in years.” I also wondered, how did I wait 52 years to see a movie in 3-D?
Two nights later, we sat in a moonlit outdoor amphitheater backed into the brown hills of the eastern San Luis Rey River valley, our hearts and fancies traveling far and wide on the remarkable flute playing, one-legged crane dancing and singing of Jethro Tull mastermind Ian Anderson. I felt like I was in a time warp, the hills coming alive as they had centuries before, when the native Luiseno Indians played in sunrise, sacred ceremony and initiation with their flutes. The interplay of moonlight and spotlights on the hills added to a feeling that the spirits of the land and sky were with us, enjoying this rare performance of acoustic and electric music with ancient English, Irish, Renaissance and Medieval undertones … and, without a doubt, some genetic tonal carryover from Celtic and Druidic times.
I was gone, transported, riding the music wherever it led, a little kid on a magic carpet watching the fair-skinned kokopelli – Anderson, the flute-playing shaman – whisk away the worries of the world for a few precious minutes. I felt the same space formed by a good meditation or an all-consuming writing session (especially fiction and poetry writing), the place where everything is possible, serenity reigns and goodness is omnipresent: the magical intersection of heaven and earth, known to writers and artists as the creative dream.
As I assimilated both of these experiences, which happened a little more than 48 hours apart, I recalled a keynote speech that Richard Paul Evans, author of The Christmas Box, Timepiece, The Walk and four other bestsellers, gave at the Wrangling With Writing conference in Tucson about five years ago. The theme of the speech was Magic—Innocence—Wonder. His perspective: all stories must have one of these three qualities to succeed with their audience. If you can get two or all three in there, you’ve hit a home run as a writer.
Magic appears before us and visits us every second of every day — through a flower, another’s voice, shapes of clouds, dancing alone in a room, hiking to a mountain summit, listening to Spirit as it utters through our souls, watching new shoots spring from a rain-filled creek, putting on 3-D glasses or catching an old favorite rock band. Some of us think we left it behind as childhood folly; others (me included, sometimes) get so caught up in daily life that we deny it entrance. There’s a little word play – en-trance. In trance. Let magic in, and things happen.
Magic is very real and very present. Writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers and other creatives rely on it to transport and transform their audiences. Those audiences seek it out to suspend the world, to recall a more innocent, wonder-filled time, to become lost in a journey, adventure, chase or dance of a modern-day minstrel’s flute. Why else do you stare at a painting for hours in a museum, listen to a catchy tune over and over again, or pop open a book at the beach or pool, hoping it sweeps you away into its world? All we have to do is open our eyes, minds and hearts, and be willing to see the world as our ancestors did. Then, we can open up every day to receiving magic, in whatever shape and form she takes. That’s the greatest beauty of it all: we never really know how she’ll arrive, but that she will touch us in a way that makes the day happier, richer, more purposeful. We’ll feel more connected to ourselves, our childlike inner selves, each other, the Divine.
Yes, magic counts. It’s the elixir of life. A little more attention paid to its expressions would change the world. Even if it means slapping on 3-D glasses or heading to the hills to get there.